Edmonton boy with autism, visual impairment blows classmates away with ukulele performance
When people hear Hayden Cardinal sing his favourite Beatles song Here Comes the Sun, it captivates them — especially when they realize he’s not even looking at the strings on his ukulele.
The 11-year-old was born with optic nerve hypoplasia — a rare disease in which his optic nerves are under-developed so he’s blind and autistic.
Early on, his parents noticed he had a gift for music. At just one years old, he started playing the keyboard.
“He can literally listen to any song and start playing it. It only takes his a few minutes and he can start figuring it out,” his father Michael Cardinal said.
After a few school field trips to the symphony, Hayden fell in love with string instruments. The ukulele is his favourite.
“It happened at school in about February is what we’re figuring,” Michael said. “His aid just happened to let him pick one up and he caught on right away.”
Hayden is very technical about his music. He knows all the chords and the slang musicians use.
“I know about four songs,” he said. “They include I’m the Map, Here comes the Sun, Blackbird by the Beatles and Mrs. Miller’s Aloha song.”
WATCH: At 11 years old, Hayden Cardinal is warming hearts with his rendition of a classic Beatles song on a ukulele. As Sarah Kraus explains, he’s overcoming a lot to make beautiful music.
Recently, Hayden asked his parents for his own instrument.
“Within four months he has a ukulele, an acoustic guitar, an electric guitar, a bass guitar and now he wants a cello,” his dad explained.
Last week, Hayden took his talents to the big stage at his elementary — Julia Kiniski School in Mill Woods — for a special talent show. (Watch below)
When his step-mom Megan Hancock saw a video of the performance, she was impressed.
“We were both almost crying — it was such a beautiful sound,” she said.
Hayden’s rendition of Here Comes the Sun had his classmates cheering loudly.
“Everyone’s so proud of Hayden,” Hancock said.
His dad agrees.
“I would love to see him have a career in music, that’s for sure.”
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